2016 Forum on Environmental Accreditation
August 8-12, 2016
Garden Grove, California

This summary is based on notes taken at the closing session of the TNI meeting on August 11, 2016.  An appendix provides a list of presentations that are posted on the website.

CSDEC – Bob offered kudos to the expert committees and the involved membership of TNI for successful completion of the revisions. Four committees presented summaries of changes to their respective modules earlier on Thursday, and there are webinars and guidance documents still to be produced to complete preparations for adoption and implementation of the full Volume 1.

A revised draft of ISO 17025 will be coming out soon, and he anticipates this requiring many changes to the Quality Systems module (V1M2), but not a lot for other modules. Meanwhile, CSDEC is working on SOPs and a NELAP Glossary. CSDEC is trying to form an Asbestos Expert Committee and has a draft charter for that group prepared.

QS Expert Committee – This group presented its changes to the QS module. During the fall, they will work on the Small Lab Handbook and address some rad chem issues, as well as formulating a plan for how to handle upcoming changes to ISO 17025.

Chemistry Expert Committee – Richard expressed relief at not leading a working session, but rather a presentation about the standard.  Valerie Slavin will take over as Committee Chair. For the fall, the committee will address demonstrations of competency. Valerie believes the promised guidance documents are complete now.

Microbiology Expert Committee – Presented changes to the standard. Going forward, they will work on the Small Lab Handbook and tools for implementing the new module.

WET Expert Committee – The Tuesday afternoon session for this group was primarily a follow-on session to the morning’s Assessment Forum, after a brief presentation of the committee’s membership and progress to date.  Future plans await the ability to begin revising the WET module of the standard.

Radiochemistry Expert Committee – This committee did not meet, but will be working on the Small Lab Handbook and planning for assessor training and a webinar about compliance with the standard, going forward.

LAB Expert Committee – Dan Hickman gave a live demo of the updated software for the Generic Application and participants discussed preliminary thoughts on revisions of Volume 2 of the standard. NOTE:  At the end of the meeting, a suggestion was made to develop a checklist and questions to be used for the evaluation of ABs (possibly to include NGABs as well as governmental) and possibly for performing the on-site assessments.

PTPEC – Session attendance was high as the committee discussed how to evaluate the preparation of PTs with its draft SOP. Also, they got permission to look at the DOE’s PT data. A confidential update about updating FoPT tables was provided by the PTPs, and the committee initiated a vote to approve the updated NPW and SCM FoPT tables, so they can be sent to the NELAP AC for approval and acceptance.

PT Expert Committee –  The committee celebrates completing all four modules/volumes of PT revisions, and welcomes a return to only monthly meetings. They will begin cataloguing “parking lot” items as well as developing training for the newly revised modules/volumes.

NEFAP – NEFAP’s focus was on its strategic plan subcommittee, which is working on advocacy efforts. Their workshop on Wednesday had 45 participants, and was a joint effort with FAC to create strategies to get FSMOs accredited to the standard.

Field Activities Committee – This group expects to have its standard revisions completed by December. Implementation tools are being developed as well, and they are looking at the anticipated ISO 17025 changes to see how to realign the standard to address those.

NELAP AC – After discussing how the current evaluation cycle is winding down, with only two evaluations pending completion, discussion of revisions to the Evaluation SOP took up most of the remaining time. These revisions were to improve efficiency and the overall process while cutting costs and the Defense Department representative offered to share their evaluation SOP.  Aaren thanked the expert committees for their efforts in revising the standard, and received a motion to begin voting on Monday, August 15, on the LASEC’s recommendations that the AC accept the remaining individual modules of the 2016 standard. 

Several small group meetings included AC members – an Advocacy Committee meeting with EPA about how to address the “equally effective” determination between NELAP and drinking water certification, a lunch meeting about LAMS, and an impromptu lunch meeting of AC members. Jerry promised that all ABs would get a copy of Volume 1 of the 2016 TNI Standard by Monday, August 15.

LASEC – The final review of the complete Volume 1 is underway, as LASEC awaits responses from the AC about its recommendations to accept individual modules of Volume 1. Judy offered kudos to the expert committees on completing the revisions, and noted that the guidance documents from the Chemistry Committee will soon begin review. Two policies are in draft form. The one about minimum requirements for assessing test methods was discussed with participants. The other policy will be about how to document that prep methods are assessed when different ABs don’t always accredit the prep methods separately from the determinative step – this policy should be ready for discussion in Houston.

Assessment Forum and Mentor Session – The Mentor Session had probably 100+ attendees and was well received on Monday morning, and the Monday afternoon Assessment Forum (planned to assist California labs in particular) had perhaps 40-50 CA labs in attendance.  The extremely successful Tuesday morning Assessment Forum featuring how to assess WET labs brought a capacity crowd with standees in the hallway.  Probably the Houston sessions will include the one on the upcoming Method Update Rule, one about Standard Methods, and one additional topic.  A request was made that these sessions not overlap the NELAP AC and LASEC sessions, so that AB representatives can participate in the Assessment Forum and Mentor Session activities.

IT Committee – This was a joint meeting with the NELAP AC, where Dan Hickman discussed progress in getting FoAs reported into LAMS by the NELAP ABs, and also briefly mentioned the planned presentation

SSAS – This group continues to work on technical issues regarding Method 8 and three other methods.

NGAB – The working group and the TNRC presented their thoughts on possible restructuring of TNI’s organization chart to group the several AB recognition activities under one “umbrella” while maintaining the individual program activities needed for each activity.  The group hopes to have an organic model to present in Houston, for adoption by the Board.

Advocacy Committees – Monday morning will be the committee Annual Reports of accomplishments and plans, at the annual meeting, plus an hour to roll out the QMP, and Warren Merkle will address changes to ISO 17025.  Monday afternoon and beyond will have three concurrent sessions.  There will be opportunities to discuss the 2016 standard and likely a workshop for TX and LA labs.  Jerry noted that ISO 17011 is being revised too and may be completed sooner than 17025.  A new half-day Small Lab Forum will be introduced, and may replace one of the Mentor Session or Assessment Forum events, with a special 1-day price for small labs to attend this event.  Ken Lancaster will contribute to the development of this since TX labs are most likely to participate. 

This committee will meet the day after the Board report-outs, on Friday morning.  They will continue reviewing progress towards meeting the Strategic Plan assignments, review the EPA meeting about “equally effective” with certification programs, and discuss tentative assignments for the upcoming TNI newsletter.


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